Judge rules against raising Lehigh University grad student's C-plus grade
A judge ruled against a former Lehigh University grad student who wanted her grade raised.
February 14th, 2013
06:51 PM ET

Judge rules against raising Lehigh University grad student's C-plus grade

By Rande Iaboni, CNN

(CNN) - A Northampton County, Pennsylvania, judge ruled Thursday against a former Lehigh University graduate student who sued to have her C-plus grade raised and for $1.3 million in damages.

Judge Emil Giordano said there was no breach of contract or discrimination against former student Megan Thode in assigning the grade. Thode, the daughter of Lehigh associate professor Stephen Thode, was attending the university tuition-free in 2009 when she received a C-plus in her master’s fieldwork class.

Lawsuit documents said Thode maintained a B-plus on all written documents, but her instructor, Amanda Carr, gave her a zero in class participation and consequently dropped her grade to a C-plus. The grade prevented her from advancing to the next course required for her degree, although she has since graduated from another program and has a job.

Thode's lawsuit said the professor deprived her of her dream of becoming a licensed professional counselor, and the potential earnings. The lawsuit said Carr retaliated against the student because Thode advocated for same-sex marriage.

The lawsuit also said Nicholas Ladany, the then-director of the degree program, was “personally annoyed and agitated that a female student" would complain about his handling of the grade.

After four days of testimony, Giordano declared that Thode failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove the grade was related to anything but academic performance. He also said Thode failed to present evidence proving that Lehigh, Carr or Ladany engaged in any discriminatory acts toward her.

Thode isn't the first student to sue a school over a grade. In 2007, a University of Massachusetts Amherst student sued in federal court when he received a C, and in 2012, two students at Texas Southern University's Thurgood Marshall School of Law sued because they received Ds. Both cases were dismissed by judges.

Gary Sasso, the dean of Lehigh University's College of Education, said university officials were pleased with the judge’s decision to uphold the faculty’s responsibility to evaluate the work of their students.

“Academic rigor should not be compromised,” he said.

Thode’s attorney was not immediately available for comment.

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soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. barbara hartman

    Guys? I see "daughter of associate professor" up there. That answers the whole thing for me. Little smart ass thought pop's position was gonna get her a good grade? Tough tamales!!!

    February 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Omen

      Yet another ill-informed comment by someone who has no clue that professors' kids enroll in the same college all the time - stop trying to make children of faculty members sound like spoiled little rich kids.

      February 16, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
      • Mike

        OMEN, you are a bit too sensitive. Most college prof kids go to school, attend class, work hard and do well. They don't go crying to the county court system, boo-hooing because they didn't get the grade they wanted. This student shouldn't have been surprised that class participation - vigorous and insightful - is expected in grad school. Kudos to the judge.

        February 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  2. t

    ......a CASE STUDY on objectivity vs. subjectivity.............

    February 16, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  3. krehator

    Colleges: The only business YOU pay to work for THEM.

    February 16, 2013 at 4:13 am |
    • NoMoreTears

      Agreed totally. Dont worry Amanda. People who get bad grades in schools which are nothing but cheap simulations of real life, actually do very well in real life.

      February 16, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  4. f4xtrafn

    A 0% is obviously malicious on ther part of the instructor. Hope she appeals.

    February 16, 2013 at 3:35 am |
    • crys

      0% likely reflects lack of preparation for class, unproffessional masnnners, and lack of intellectual content in discussion. At ggrad school, merely showing up does not help your grad- participation expectations are much higher.

      February 16, 2013 at 4:12 am |
      • crys

        Sorry for errors-typing on a tablet messes with my syntax and spelling.

        February 16, 2013 at 4:14 am |
      • Thom

        I can clearly see by your grammatical expertise that you, must have first hand experiance in lack of preperation and Intellectual content.

        February 16, 2013 at 6:18 am |
      • gusto

        @Thom. It's "experience", Troll.

        February 16, 2013 at 11:59 am |
      • another Jeff

        @Thom: not to mention "preparation". Troll.

        February 16, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • P. Hanks

      I worked for 19 months on my Master's in Nursing Education online with the University of Phoenix and I can attest that I was not treated fairly. I too received a C+ in my project course however, it was over a date that had been justified as a current completion of the project. I tried to talk to the professor about the correctness of my information however, she refused to correspond with me. I had no academic advisor to plead my case to, and only the financial who slapped me with a bill of $2,500.00 especially after she found out that I hired a mediator (retaliation). The University of Phoenix at first seemed that they would talk to my mediator however, they decided not to. Just think I only needed 9 more hours to finish my degree in nursing education GPA. 3.44 "it has been a dream deferred".

      February 21, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  5. Ajazz

    It's called working hard for a grade. Surprising concept for some people.

    February 16, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • another Jeff

      I sure wouldn't want her giving me advice. Whether she worked hard or not is immaterial; she wasn't suited for this line of work. Good thing she gave her instructor an out by not completing all the coursework and being a general flake.

      February 16, 2013 at 12:50 am |
  6. RJR17

    Another article about this case stated that a large component of this course was a mandatory internship that she did not complete. Anything above a zero would have been unethical on the instructor's part.

    February 15, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
  7. tekbit

    Wasn't this a segment of "The Office"?

    February 15, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
  8. rosenberg

    I was deeply moved by the story regarding a former Rutgers student of mine Louisa
    Leal. She was in my public speaking class. She was so inspired by my teaching
    that even though she is not Jewish she asked me to pray for her which I did.I
    went out of my way to help her as I did with many other students who needed
    extra help. I was there to help many athletes get through Rutgers, particularly
    those who had injuries and learning problems including Ray Rice, Jeremy Britt
    and most of the NFL players over the last twenty plus years. Last year I was
    terminated from Rutgers after teaching there since 1990. The Home News has not
    been willing to do my story. My crime was that I was not willing to give 20% A's
    and 20% C's and D's to my students, creating and using my own textbook (not
    unlike other professors) and being unwilling to accept the disrespect given to
    me by the chairman of the department. THE HEAD OF THE UNDERGRADUATE DEPT. CONVENIENTLY RETIRED AND THE DEPT. CHAIRMAN IS ON SABBATICAL MAKING A FORTUNE AS A FULL PROFESSOR WHILE ADJUNCTS STARVE.
    I always received the highest student ratings. Please ask Louisa about me and she
    will verify this. I would love to speak with her if you could convey that . A current student at Rutgers told me today that certain professors are curving grades so that if you are one of the unlucky 20% YOU MIGHT GET A D EVEN THOUGH YOU REALLY DESERVED A HIGHER GRADE. If you do not believe this ask students at Rutgers. There is no way that I would ever do that to a student. That is why I NO LONGER TEACH THERE.
    message.
    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

    February 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  9. JD-2ndTry

    Unlike most academic pursuits, health care majors, including Counseling, is designed first to HELP and PROTECT the public, and second to enable higher income for the student. Nurses, Doctors, Counselors, Airline Pilots not only have to KNOW their material but they have to DO their work correctly and skillfully. You do not want to be on the receiving end of a clumsy doctor or airline pilot, likewise nobody want a counselor that makes their problems worse instead of better.

    In most academic pursuits reading the assignments and passing a multiple choice exam is all it takes to advance, and the teachers are there to assist in this process, the teachers will also give emphasis and additional information. In health care majors the professors have to evaluate if the student will DO their work correctly and skillfully. I know that Med School is famous for attrition, I am sure that Counseling programs also have attrition.

    February 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  10. DocB

    The main issue here is the ability of the professor of the Teaching Assistant to grade you based on something entirely subjective, like "in-class participation". It is absurd that it counts for an entire letter grade. What if you are shy and quiet, barely able to attend class due to overwhelming social anxiety, but manage to get high 80s on every test and paper? Should you be subjected to a harsh review by the grader and thus get a much lower grade? What if you raise your hand and say ridiculous things, are you then "participating"? It's much too subjective and needs review.

    February 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Missy

      She was studying for a degree to be a professional councilor! You can't be shy and complete that type of job successfully! Besides, participation at the post-grad level isn't as subjective as you might think. If you are unable to hold intelligent conversation about your studies, you shouldn't be pursuing an advanced degree.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • Buck

        Well put Missy. In this particular case, being shy wasn't the issue at hand. Her issue was just the opposite. Her participation was seen as being inappropriate (off topic, use of language, etc...) and the class was continually disrupted by her emotional outbursts. She also apparently ignored multiple warnings. If she had been treated unfairly, she should have been able to provide adequate evidence along with witnesses (she wasn't the only student in the class).

        February 15, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • John Hillman

      There is already too much "accommodation" for people in academics. The value of college degrees has been marginalized because "everyone deserves to go to college". Even if you agree to that, it does not mean they "deserve" to get any degree they want without meeting the same requirements others in the same field MUST meet.

      February 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • One L

      uhh, C plus is half a letter grade from a B

      February 15, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Eric

      Showing up, counts in large part to class participation. You have to actually "be" in class the entire session. My father, my uncle, my husband and about a dozen friends are all Professors, and almost all require you to "show up". They recognize that some are shy, have social anxiety issues, etc. which is why class participation only counts for a part of the total grade. If class participation is 10% or more, that's a whole letter grade at least! Now, as stated, I know many professors and all lay out their expectations in exacting detail, in their syllabus. So if you get a zero in class participation, at the graduate level, YOU EARNED IT!!
      This student clearly had no other student to support her version of the facts. If you don't know the rules of the game by grad school, you probably should not be in grad school.

      February 15, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Eric

      If Class Participation counts for 10% of the total credit, that IS one entire letter grade.

      If you get a zero, no points at all, you had to have earned that. Part of class participation is just showing up and staying for the entire class period. How does anyone not know this?

      So if her, the students, coursework was 'B' work all along, and class participation is 10% (or more) of the grade, then she drops to a "C" grade and it's her own doing.

      February 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Eepeep

      I am that kind of person, and I got that kind of degree and I'll tell you what you do: You suck it up and do the same that's required of everyone else. If I have issues with things I understand they're MY issues, not everyone else's to deal with. You get some therapy, you get some meds, and you get some courage. A "disability" isn't a free pass to an easy ride, its a reminder that if you want to hang with the rest of the crowd you're going to have to work a little harder.

      February 16, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Todd

      It is GRAD school. "I'm shy" works when you are seventeen and new to academia. By grad school, which is comprised of SEMINARS and FIELDWORK, you should be ready to actively and constructively participate in a positive fashion. No sympathy, here.

      February 16, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  11. Kevin H

    I have attended both "bricks and mortar" and online universities. The bricks and mortar schools were especially poor at creating fair and equitable education. The bricks and mortar institutions I attended didn't have rubrics. For those new to the concept a rubric can be very generic in nature but is often quite specific. The rubric spells out precisely what is expected in terms of the content, quality and quantity of participation in a given academic activity. I found that at least one fairly "ivy league" institution allowed its professors to give very little attention to a grading rubric in their course syllabus. In other words whatever that professor deemed participation was considered participation. Some institutions who judge their faculty on time in the position rather than on the quality of their instruction don't insist on stringent rubrics. A stringent rubric means that a professor who happens to be particularly bias against a student can't stick it to them just because... They must adhere to either what they agreed upon as a rubric or what a department agreed upon as a rubric. In my online courses the rubric was very stringent. The level of participation was specified – the number of postings, the quality of the posting, the foci – but picky things like grammar and citations were given considerable weight – but not so much so that the professor could base your entire grade on those alone. The focus was on the discussion topics and whether you did your research and could express yourself with a scholarly voice. Could you focus the academic lens on the given topic and employ scholarly literature to support your point of view? If the answer was yes, then you did well, if the answer was no, you didn't. Sadly that's not true in many bricks and mortar schools where the professor is given a great deal of latitude at the graduate level. I've known people that couldn't graduate because they and their faculty chairs or department didn't see "eye to eye". This seems terribly petty but consider this: you may only have one to three people in your whole department who are even interested in your area of academic interest. There may be only one who is truly qualified to make judgements about what you write or think. Scholarly communities are very small, very elite. As one professor put it, "we have the keys to the club and if you want to get in you have to do what we tell you." Judges may or may not understand the petty environment that is academia. The public at large certainly doesn't understand the complex and sometimes bizarre world of post-secondary education. Add in the divided focus between research and androgy – on actual classroom teaching – and you have a very powerful, potent environment for discrimination of all kinds. Faculty might not discriminate against you because you're black, or over 50 or under 30, but they sure might if your focus would represent a complete reversal of their 25 or 30 years of work!

    February 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Eric

      What a load of codswollop!!

      February 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Karl

      I have taken classes at this school and all of the professors are REQUIRED in their syllabi to state exactly how the course is graded. They state the percentage of the grade that is participation, which is normally between 10% and 15%. In my experience, if participation is worth 100 points, showing up everyday and staying for the entire lecture will earn you between a 80 or a 90.

      February 16, 2013 at 2:49 am |
      • crys

        At grad school, attendance is nott sufficienr for even aportion of participation marks-the student is expected to prepare for class to take part in discussion in a professional manner and to engage intellectually at a post-grad level.merely attending gets a student 0 marks. Attending and being lessx than professional can result in a deduction beyond the participation total.

        February 16, 2013 at 4:08 am |
    • Thom

      Dude, did you really, truly expect people to read that ridiculously long winded post in it's entirety?? Just the size of it promted this question.

      It occurs to me that she may have expected to be coddled because her Father was an Assoc Prof at the School. For someone who grew up with a Proffessor for a Father and certainly being reminded that a good Education is priceless, even a "B" average shows a lack of effort on her part.

      February 16, 2013 at 6:27 am |
  12. Steve

    I hope she matured a bit from this event in her life. Learn and live, live and learn. She should be listed on the list of moveon.org

    February 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  13. Daremonai

    Setting aside arguments about how justified a '0' in class participation is.... I think a bigger problem here (and this is common in grad programs) is that a single participation grade in a single class with a professor you have personal issues results in being booted from a degree program that you are otherwise preforming well in. One of the things that makes grad school so insane is this 'one drop' way of handling problems. Any problem, a single bad grade, a single conflict with a professor in the department, and you are done. I have seen a lot of promising people drummed out for reasons like these, and people with a lot less potential slog through because they can navigate the social waters of the program better.

    February 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • StupidLawsuit

      Why is this an issue? You SHOULD be able to work with your professor in a PROFESSIONAL MANNER. I have to work with all kinds of people on a daily basis that I don't get along with, but if I don't, I can get in trouble. Why should schooling be any different? Why is it an issue that they woman got her chops busted because she couldn't act in a fashion her professor deemed appropriate?

      February 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • Dan Halen

        Like compromising her morals?

        February 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • Buck

        @Dan Halen She wasn't in a situation where she was being asked to compromise her morals. All she apparently failed to do was maintain a mature level of discussion. Don't you think if the professor had graded her unfairly, that some of her classmates would have stepped forward?

        February 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • Az Lefty

        What "Morals" were comprised, no one told her to get gay married or else. Perhaps both you and she should learn what morals really are.

        February 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • another Jeff

      A university professor just prevented an emotionally unbalanced, future newsmaker from becoming a licensed professional counselor. She has potentially saved lives by keeping a marginal performer from giving potentially bad (inappropriate) advice. Kudos to the professor! Be glad this student didn't get certified and come across a weapon, take it to work and use it. Remember Major Hasan, who killed all those soldiers at Ft. Hood? He was a professional in that field. His supervisors knew he was unfit and did nothing to stop him. This student was NOT promising.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
      • Dan Halen

        You might want to know you can be held civilly liable for those comments. It's amazing what IP technology and a subpoena can do.

        February 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
      • Maya

        How exactly do you think this woman is going to show causation between a single comment made in a CNN story comments section and any sort of tangible damage? Or didn't you think about that?

        Armchair lawyers are obnoxious. Go back to your Cheetos.

        February 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
      • DonnieDarko

        Given her track record in court, I wouldn't bet on it.

        February 15, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
      • another Jeff

        Okay Dan, how's this: the student was clearly, according to the article, a loose cannon and didn't deserve to be a certified counselor. Better? The Maj. Hasan correlation is hereby retracted.

        February 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  14. Bonnie

    Those of you commenting don't have all the details of the story. They are not in this article, but I read elsewhere that the participation grade is out of 25. The student DID attend classes and DID participate. But she and the instructor butted heads. So the instructor punished her by giving her 0 out of 25.

    February 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Buck

      I think most people understand a lack of participation wasn't the issue. It was all about the appropriateness of the participation. If she was unfairly graded on participation, another student could have easily backed up her version of the story as a witness. That didn't happen and she produced no evidence. On top of that, she WAS warned through the appropriate channels prior to receiving the 0. If you continually disrupt the class, why wouldn't you deserve a 0 in class participation?

      February 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • MikeH

        Seems to me that the only way to get a 0 would be to never attend class. Even if all you do is show up and make a face when someone makes a comment, you have participated in that discussion.

        As another poster states below, if she was very disruptive, she should have been banned from the class because she was keeping others from learning. Then she fails or ends up with an incomplete if that particular school gives those.

        I do not know enough of the details to stand behind one side or the other (if she was truly disruptive then remove here and fail her, but she should not be expected to keep her opinions to herself if they are relavent to the discussion, not sure which it is), but from a basic logic standpoint, a 0 should only be given if someone does not contribute to the class at all.

        Where I am left most confused in this is centered around her inability to complete the degree. Is she not eligible to retake the course and continue?

        February 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
      • JeffnTX

        I teach college students and I can tell you there if a difference between "participation" and "professional participation" or "mature participation" ... too often the excuse is, "...I worked hard... I deserve 'X' grade... " Cooperate and graduate!

        February 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • StupidLawsuit

      You don't sue for a bad grade. Take care of your business like a responsible adult. If that mean shutting your pie-hole, then do so. Not you, the girl who got the C.

      February 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Jeff

      If she was so disruptive in class, the approriate responce would have been for the school's Dean to become involved and remove her from enrollment. If she was not dropped from the class, it is obvious that the Dean expected the conflict to be worked out. A "zero" is punitive. It shows that the school had no intention of working the issues out. This whole story has motivated me to have my organization's grants department review our financial support for Lehigh and ensure we are not contributing to this bigotry.

      February 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
      • another Jeff

        A university professor just prevented an emotionally unbalanced, future newsmaker from becoming a licensed professional counselor. She has potentially saved lives by keeping a marginal performer from giving potentially bad (inappropriate) advice. Kudos to the professor! Be glad this student didn't get certified and come across a weapon, take it to work and use it. Remember Major Hasan, who killed all those soldiers at Ft. Hood? He was a professional in that field.

        February 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Crash

      Apparently you didn't read either article because she couldn't prove her accusations that therefore they are true.

      February 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • John Hillman

      One of the things to learn in "higher education" is that to win a war you may lose some battles. I have several degrees. I learned which professors to simply "agree with" in order to get the credit needed. The grades still exist on my transcripts. The professors are long dead.

      February 15, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Eric

      Clearly the Judge adjucating the evidence put forth, disagrees with your assessment Bonnie. The Judge in this case, clearly thought the Professor and the school, were completely in keeping with the standards set forth for the course and the program.

      The student deserved her grade!

      February 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
  15. One L

    Anyone in grad school, as some people here have already stated, should realize participation is a large part of grad school, b/c most of the time that's what you do – unlike undergrad, the professor doesn't lecture as much b/c you are supposed to be able to articulate your own throughts and opinions.

    February 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  16. El Coyote

    A 0(zero) for lack of class participation? Was she slouched down in her seat, smacking her gum, and doing her nails at every class session?

    February 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • shootmyownfood

      Along with making inappropriate and disruptive comments.

      February 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  17. Shuffler

    Poor parenting carried over to a lazy daughter with mental issues.

    February 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Owl96

      She was in graduate school. If she was as lazy as you seem to imply, should would not have received her bachelorette degree.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
      • Missy

        Bachlorette degree? Obviously, you never attended a university, I know middle school students that know it's Bachelor's.

        February 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
      • shootmyownfood

        That degree is only available from a reality TV show. The term is "Bachelor's Degree." An Associate's Degree isn't called an "Associette Degree" if the holder is female, nor is a Master's Degree called a "Mistress's Degree." Weirdo.

        February 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  18. Saboth

    Sounds like yet another pompous college professor. Met quite a few. So she had a B+ on every assignment, and he dropped her grade because she personally insulted him by not attending class. Who *cares* about class if you learned the material? The only excuse for this is if it explicitly says in the syllabus that class attendance is mandatory and neglecting to attend can and will affect your grade.

    February 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Omen

      Participation is about benefiting a community of learners. The purpose of class is not merely to rehash everything in one's assigned readings as though no one else in the room has looked at the same stuff, but rather to build meaning collectively and emerge all the better for it. In this regard, disruptive classroom behavior negatively impacts the meaning-building process.

      February 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
      • El Coyote

        Rhetoric! Bro/Sis. Smack on.

        February 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Paulwisc

      Anyone attending grad school should have known that class participation might be expected. Since there's nothing in the article about the demeanor of the instructor, your characterizations are invalid, and since the instructor is a woman contrary to your assumption, it appears you didn't wait to read the article thoroughly before posting your screed against professors.

      February 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • StupidLawsuit

      Yeah, I tried that whole, "who cares if I show up to work as long as my work gets done" bit at my job and they fired me. What the heck? I should totally sue them.

      February 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  19. Wes

    2 to 1 she wears Birkenstocks.

    February 15, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • BB

      I wore Birkenstocks and was a 4.0 student including graduate coursework. What's your point?

      February 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • indebtdoc

      Exactly. I still wear Birks and was a 4.0. I can't believe I'm even replying to this but it drives me wild when people randomly put two things together w/o logic.

      February 16, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  20. J

    I cannot imagine the temper tantrum Ms. Thode had when she didn't get her way THIS time.

    February 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  21. dyfts

    I have to agree that sticking it to someone for Class Participation is an abuse of power. Being annoying or emotionally unstable is not the same as not knowing the content, unless the class was related to teaching people how to behave such as course in manners then the grade was inappropriate.

    I hate how class participation is used to reward or punish students. I actually got an A- in a course BECAUSE of class participation. I honestly was shocked when I got the grade and went to the professor because I never got more than a B on any assignment. Her response was that I attended every class, and always contributed so my class participation grade bumped me up. WHAT! I did not know the material! Who the heck cares if I know when to raise my hand if I can't do the job. We just fired a guy at our company last year because he could talk a good talk, but lost us tons of money with his incompetent work performance.

    When I taught, I would get students who were upset with their grade because "they tried." And I just don't care how hard you try, sometimes you just don't have what it takes. I try to tell them that sometimes life isn't about how much effort you put into something, but the quality of the result.

    February 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Dana

      Class participation was a requirement for this course. It was listed in the syllabus for this course. The student did not participate regularly in class discussion, and when she did, she used profanity at least once and actually cried during one lecture. In-class participation is VERY important in many courses, and the instructor has every right to give her a zero. I personally would have kicked her out of my class for using profanity. This school has done their best to make sure that only those that are qualified get the counseling certification. Good for them!

      February 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
      • Omen

        I actually don't care if students curse in my class as long as it is not aimed at another student. We make clear what flies in a formal and informal setting, and my class discussions are structured informal conversations/debates. I am not offended when people use curse words, and I see no good reason to pretend to be.

        February 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Jeff

      Dyfts, please read my comment. It wasn't a course in table manners, but something likely far more important. It was a behavioral science. Still an abuse of power?

      February 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Carl

      "Being annoying or emotionally unstable is not the same as not knowing the content, unless"

      Unless she is trying to become a professional counselor?

      February 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • StupidLawsuit

      Unfortunately life is not just about knowing content. College should mirror life – there SHOULD be an expectation that you NOT ONLY LEARN THE MATERIAL but you contribute in addition.

      February 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • MikeH

        College should mirror life? That would be a fantastic departure from the status quo. College has long been treated as an escape from real life. How often do we hear the term "college kids" referring to someone who is 20+? How about "the best days of your life"? It is said because there is a whole lot of freedom with very limited responsibility. For most students, it's a place where people can go be in a bit of a bubble and explore mentally and emotionally without nearly the same level of external stresses as real life.

        That being said, my experience is that grad school is very different than undergrad. Many graduate students have are a part of the work force, have been in the work force, and may have even started families. There is a much higher level of maturity and sense of responsibility.

        February 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
      • Happy hats

        If college modeled life, there would be no college. I've lost count of how many times I've had to get people to understand that what they learned in school doesn't work in the real world.

        February 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  22. Jeff

    My guess is that a university professor just prevented an emotionally unbalanced, future newsmaker from becoming a licensed professional counselor. She has potentially saved lives by keeping a marginal performer from giving potentially bad (inappropriate) advice. Kudos to the professor!

    February 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  23. Janer52

    frivilous lawsuit 101

    February 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  24. Wes

    Regardless of whether or not she deserved the 0 for class participation. This is not the sort of thing you sue for in court for a million dollars!

    February 15, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Wes

      oops, I wish i could fix the typo in that post.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
      • Jeff

        Actually, the suit was asking for the grade to be changed. The money was never asked for. The $ amount was only in reference to lost potentail revenue over a lifetime that the Counceling degree would have conveyed.

        February 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
      • Wes

        You might be right, but that's not what the first sentence of this article says. It says she "sued to have her C-plus grade raised and for $1.3 million in damages."

        February 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  25. barbara451

    teaching at college in CA – we are no longer allowed to use class attendance as an indicator of a grade. Participation, yes, attendance, no. Go figure.

    February 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Buck

      Well, I suppose it's kind of hard to participate in a class if you don't attend it. So what your college is doing actually makes sense to me.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • dave

        I agree with you. Also, IF a student can complete all the required class criteria and make the needed grade without attending (i.e. doesn't need to be "re-taught" something (s)he already knows), it appears to me that the SMART thing to do with that time is to study areas that (s)he doesn't already know or where (s)he is struggling.

        February 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Gus in CA

      Even way back when I went to college, 60 years ago, they assigned grades based on what you learned, not how much you stroked the instructors ego. You could ace a course and show up only for the tests. At the beginning, they issued a schedule for the tests and a summary of what would be taught. The course objectives, if you will. The instructor was there to help you learn, should you chose to avail. It was not mandatory. If you can demonstrate proficiency via tests and papers, of what purpose is showing up for class? There is nothing new in this concept. I suspect she is right, but internal appeals in schools generally exist and should be used, not federal court. She can probably also take the course over again, either at the same school or another. Very surprised that the Dean supported the teacher. I agree she was unfairly graded, unless classroom participation was clearly stated at the beginning as part of your grade. If it was, debating this with the instructor de novo, should have taken place. You cannot openly violate a condition, then claim injury. If you cannot abide by the stated conditions for a class, take it somewhere else.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • GOD of all GODS

      well yea, california
      I'm suprised anyone even goes to college there

      February 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  26. barbara451

    oh please let me comment on this 1. she has a B+ average – that is not good enough for graduate work. When I was in a graduate program, an A average was the standard. Sadly the standards are dropping. 2. I would never have dreamed of challenging a grade when I was a student. If I got a B+, I was disappointed, but would never have challenged the decision of my professors, let alone sue someone for it. My advice, get a grip on reality and do A work, if you want an A for the class. simple as that.. I did it and I am not special in any way, but willing to work for it.

    February 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • dave

      Although I agree with your overall statement, one can maintain an "A" average while receiving a B+ in a class. 5 years out of school no employer will give a rats that someone made a B+ in a class versus all straight A's. I also don't like too much evaluation credit given from "subjective" criteria, suing over it is ridiculous. Go through the University's appeal process. If you lose, just take the course over with a different professor (or learn what makes up the grading criteria for this teacher, and focus on what the professor wants).

      February 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  27. Elizabeth

    Nowhere does this article address the issue of the student's class participation, the given reason for her grade dropping from a B+ to a C+. As an attorney who left practice to take a position as a college professor, I find this a huge hole in the discussion. I have had some very intelligent, conscientious students who were absolutely incapable of interacting with others in a group or one-on-one. Their written work was lovely, but faced with a situation in which they were required to communicate "on the fly" they were utterly incompetent. Needless to say, these students avoided participating orally. In a counseling program, this kind of student would be at a decided disadvantage, and probably NOT a great candidate for advancement. It can be a difficult thing for smart people to learn that they are not perfect.

    February 15, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Buck

      A previous CNN article addressed the reason for a score of 0 in class participation. They should have repeated that information in this article. Anyway, the 0 wasn't due to a lack of participation. It had to do with the fact her class participation was inappropriate and she had multiple outbursts. She was appropriately warned before receiving a 0 as well.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
      • Josh

        Exactly correct. This student went off the edge, and used quite inappropriate language. Since this is a measure of the student's possible demeanor when actually dealing with real clients in their later professional life, a "0" is a valid mark. This student was blocked from having a career, in an area they should not be in.

        February 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
      • toydrum

        Thank you, that makes it more clear. If her participation grade had truly been unfair, I would have expected her to try and get all of the other students in the class to back her up on this. But if that had been the case, I am fairly sure this would have been resolved by the program director and never made it into the courts at all.

        February 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Robert

      Ummm ..3rd paragraph

      February 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Jenster

      Thank you! Once again CNN gives only part of the story and leaves out information that is crucial to our understanding this bit of "news".

      February 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  28. Charles Gannon

    Like all people who get the free stuff – they just want more

    February 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  29. barbara

    So exactly what percent of your grade is "class participation?" It doesn't seem enough to drop her an entire grade. Also, did she receive any academic warning stating that she was in danger of falling below the grade needed to progress to the next course? Seems like someone did have it in for her. I hope she appeals.

    February 15, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Buck

      If class participation is a significant portion of your overall grade, getting a 0 in that category can definitely affect your final grade. Also, she DID receive a written warning about how her class participation was entirely disruptive. If she was treated unfairly by the professor, you would think she would have produced witnesses since she wasn't the only student in the class.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Kate

      Barb, in many classes I've taken class participation is emphasized in the syllabus and verbally. Yes, it should be a full grade drop as class participation shows your understanding of the class material.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • terrie allen

      Your joking ! she got it all FREE. thought she deserved everything free.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Alan S

      Barb: Yes, I too hope she appeals. That's what our justice system needs - real cases about real issues slowed to a crawl because whiners take trivial matters to court. Yes, it would be wonderful if every student who was unhappy about a grade (in this case a passing grade, no less) sued in court. And then appealed. Maybe went up on a writ of cert to the U.S. Supreme Court. That would be a valuable use of the justices' time.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  30. Joe

    You're using a few too many commas: "The lawsuit, said Carr, retaliated" means the exact opposite of what it should say, "The lawsuit [claims] Carr retaliated..."

    FYI.

    February 15, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Jack

      Wow Joe. Thanks for being so intelligent and educating us on proper punctuation. Get over yourself.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • Buck

        Joe was just identifying a rather significant puncuation error. He's not attacking your intelligence or anyone else's. So just relax.

        February 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
      • Omen

        Why are you offended by someone addressing clear grammatical errors? There is nothing wrong with letting someone know that he or she is using language incorrectly, and quite a bit wrong with your insistence upon such errors going unchecked. Competent use of the English language isn't optional.

        February 15, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
      • terrie allen

        Jack i so agree with you. Thanks Joe for getting that straight.

        February 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
      • Ron

        I see nothing wrong with holding journalists to the highest standards of written communication. After all, that's sort of the basis of their occupation. What ever happened to articles going through editors and a review process before being posted? Journalism used to be a respectable occupation where individuals gathered facts, verified those facts, and then communicated those facts in a way that was intelligent, professional, and interesting. Now you have low paid journalists with a minimal education, low quality, and generally uninteresting articles.

        February 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  31. Prince Roger Nelson

    Kudos for Higher Education on this ruling. Academic integrity is priceless but you have to wonder this student's professional costs after this failed judical performance. With employers googling various social networks in making interview and hiriing decisions, this student really burned her bridges both with her school and potential career.

    February 15, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  32. genengineer05

    Wow – I'll bet Obama is crushed as well – this being a prime example of his "Give me somthing for doing nothing" philosophy and all. Thank God there are still a few people left in the U.S. who subscribe to the – you earn what you actually work for – school of thinking. Maybe Obama can direct Holder to overturn this obvious miscarriage of justice......sarcasm cue........

    February 15, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • GRS62

      Leave it to a T-bagger to turn this story in to an anti-Obama rant. T-bagger's lost, this poor little rich girl (her Daddy got her in tuition-free) lost, so just accept it and move on. If that doesn't work for you then at least you can thump your chest while listening to Rush.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • Omen

        Your definition of "rich" must be pretty low in order to include the salary of a Lehigh professor. Again, tuition remission has nothing to do with wealth - it is one of the fringe benefits of being a faculty member at that school, same as it is at mine. This has already been stated.

        February 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
      • Elizabeth

        Though it might never occur to people outside academia, the children and spouses of professors (and sometimes other employees as well) often qualify for tuition waivers at the college or university where their family member is employed. It is usually a part of professors' benefits packages. Many kids of faculty opt to go elsewhere – away from the influence of mom or dad – but some are smart and use the benefit to save from having to take out loans, etc.

        February 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
      • GRS62

        Okay, maybe I should have stated she was "acting" like a spoiled little rich girl. Either way, she got a free ride, didn't earn anything more than a C+ and now she's crying and wanting to be rewarded for her own lack of effort and responsibility. Sounds an awful lot like a rich girls temper tantrum to me (Veruca Salt comes to mind).

        February 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • smitvict

      Maybe Eric Holder can spread some grades around the school to track where they go. (sarc)

      February 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
      • Me

        or ....... maybe you can get a brain ........ and make lucid sensible comments!

        February 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • DeTamble

      Always easy to tell a bagger.
      Rant, snort, huff.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  33. Charles

    She probably did not wear a short enough skirt or tight enough shirt. If she did she would have gotten an "A+++" in class participation.

    February 15, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Buck

      Read the article. Her professor was a female.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • Omen

        Well, that doesn't preclude attraction to females, but we generally consider that our careers are worth more to us than such cheap thrills, so situations in which such flirtation works to a student's benefit are the exception in academia, not the norm.

        February 15, 2013 at 11:16 am |
      • Buck

        @Omen. You make excellent points and I had no intention of suggesting that Charles comment would hold any water even if the professor was male. I only wanted to point out that Charles proved a second time he didn't read the article. And this was after he accused someone else of not reading it. One more thing to note, not only was the professor female, she was also hetero. It's my experience that most intelligent hetero females tend to react negatively towards other females that dress provocatively in a professional environment.

        February 15, 2013 at 11:36 am |
      • Charles

        how do you know she is hetero????

        February 15, 2013 at 11:39 am |
      • Buck

        @Charles. Because the articles states that the professor "retaliated against the student because Thode advocated for same-s e x marriage." That implies it right there that the professor is clearly hetero.

        February 15, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Jeff

      Charles, are you even awake? Read the article. Better yet, read YESTERDAY's article. You can google, I know you can. Just try it.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  34. Person of Interest

    Class Attendence, this is how the Universities stick it to you. I worked 35-40 hours a week when I went to college. So times I didn't go to class when there was nothing important happening so I could work more and pay for college. My Meterology and Geology classes were both dropped letter grades because I missed more than 3 days without a doctor's note. Both classes were lecture courses and there was little if no class dicussion (they were fulfilling Gen Ed requirements) yet I was still dropped letter grades. Note there was no "Class Participation grade" for the classes but it was a "University policy."

    While in this girl's case you should be going to class for your major coursework (especially if you aren't paying for school) all across the country students get screwed by this all of the time. But if the class isn't a "Speech" class and the professor is doing nothing but talking for 50 min straight basically reading from the book with no class discussion students shouldn't get punished for missing class to work a bit extra and subsequentally pay for your college.

    February 15, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Buck

      Just curious, but did you try to work with your professors prior to making the decision yourself to skip class? I had professors that were willing to work with students knowing full well they had to deal with both work and school.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Omen

      Class attendance is a clear expectation, and you know this. My attendance policy is somewhat different, but I don't fauly anyone for lowering grades due to student absence. You know when classes are scheduled, and the fact that you have a schedule means that attendance isn't just a suggestion. If you decide that something else is a higher priority, that is fine, but accept the consequences of your choice. You wouldn't argue that your employer should pay you for skipping work, so don't expect to have no repercussions for skipping class. You aren't owed a grade just for paying tuition.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • Brian

        This is why "traditional" learning just isn't relevant anymore. People used to think "one must go to college to have a good job." Reality check: in some fields that's very true... but in the IT industry, completely false. People don't care where you went to school or even if you graduated. They look at a skill set. Within the scope of computer science, that skill set can be self taught – you can learn Scala from Ordersky for free, via his online coursework.

        The idea of attending every class, even if it's pointless, then you get a letter grade drop, just proves a point that the school system is worthless. What I advise young people is, go to college if you have time – i think it's a great experience to learn more about other cultures and relate to a mix of people probably not dealt with before. But if you're IT focused, don't even bother wasting your money... you can learn Java/C/Scala/ on your own, get a entry job at 65k, and get real world experience with new technologies not even available in most college campus' while on the job, and jump to a new job in a few years at over 100k. Get a sr. Developer position at 150+ a few years after that.

        I've always thought the schools of business (at least on my campus) were pointless. Marketing/Real Estate/Business all seemed 'fluff' classes, and after spending 15 years in the it industry I just don't see how any of those classes prepare students for the real world. They really start their education on day 1 of their first job.

        So again, why would any student shell out $$, work their hands to the bone to pay for it, deal with crappy professors... then get docked grades if you don't attend... only at the end of it to get the realization that the real world doesn't even care about your school or letter grade for a variety of industries.

        February 15, 2013 at 11:27 am |
      • Gus in CA

        My. My. I couldn't disagree more. Some classes necessarily involve oral discussion to develop proficiency, such as mock trials in gaining a legal degree, but most do not. Like Lincoln, it is possible to actually educate yourself, apart from the formal classroom. The skill set achieved is what is important, not how you got it. A mere schedule is not a command to attend, unless and until that is clearly stated in the course material, and should not be a general school policy. Somebody got carried away with their sense of self importance.

        February 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • MeanOldMan

        @Brian...I have to disagree with some of your comments. I worked for 30 years for one of the largest Computer/Technology companies in the world. When interviewing they always asked for transcripts and they better contain at least a 3.5 GPA or above. Once in the corporation, for a promotion there was also a degree level which was mandatory for each level. Our course activity also contained lab work that could not be conducted at home on your own. A new hire will always start a new learnng curve when starting a new job. Schools can never cover everything each employer needs in a hire. We used to donate much of our older equipment to local colleges for instance and usually had to also provide training for instructors as most of them had never seen equipment as advanced as what we were getting rid of as obsolete. Even in IT aspects of our company, from the outside, degrees or provable equivalent experience was a requirement and once inside internal courses were a continuous requirement.

        February 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
      • indebtdoc

        EXACTLY.

        February 16, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • genengineer05

      Not sure where you went to school, but I've taught at a number of universities over the years. I have a strict policy on class attendance and participation – if you miss more than 2 classes (without a legitimate excuse), or do not actively participate in class (this means asking questions, offering answers, engaging in the discussion), your final grade will be substantially impacted. I am transparent and upfront about this reality from day 1. I am not "out to get anyone," do not have a "secret agenda" and am not "unbalanced." Rather, I do this to – accurately gauge the students' grasp of the material, their committment to actively learn and not least, to share their insights and conclusions with the rest of the class. Anyone going into a university class should know what the expectations are – if they are unclear, ask the instructor for clarity. If you know and comprehend the expectations and do not abide by them, it is your fault alone. Crying about it and demanding a grade bump, YEARS AFTER the fact, shows a depressing lack of intellectual maturity and raises the question in my mind of how fit you were for a graduate program in the first place.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • helicohunter

      I worked through college, too, but I still went to class. Attendance is not required by all colleges/classes, but if it is, you'd better be there or ask permission to miss class.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Missy

      This should definitely be considered for undergrad, but post-grad, as this was is a completely different idea.

      I also missed classes for various health, family and work issues, but I informed my professors ahead of time if I could and never had someone not work with me. It's all about how you present yourself.

      February 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  35. Omen

    On the main topic, how is it possible for a student to earn a "0" for class participation? Whenever possible, I use participation to raise grades, not lower them. However, instructors have a right to set their own criteria and decide grades based on them, so long as they are explicitly disclosed and applied fairly to all students. With rare exception, suing for grades is silly. Finally, people who are crowing about this student attending for free have no clue how higher education works and why.

    February 15, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • GrowUp

      Her father is a professor at Lehigh....and she got tuition remission because of that.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Buck

      A complete lack of class participation or entirely inappropriate class participation will get you a score of 0. In this case, her participation was inappropriate.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  36. Scott

    I'm sorry, I'm not American but can someone explain how a student who was getting Bs can get a 0 in class participation? Surely she would have to participate in class to get those Bs or is class participation another way of saying field/group work.

    Genuine question.

    February 15, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • GrowUp

      No she did not get a B in the class. She usually got a B in other classes, which is typically a condition to remain in the graduate school. A C or lower grade in graduate school should be considered as failure.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:51 am |
      • Charles

        ??? You both are wrong. She got a B in written work (i.e., tests, papers, etc.) but was a wallflower in class discussions. Did you not read the article?

        February 15, 2013 at 11:02 am |
      • Buck

        @Charles. You are actually incorrect. She was no wallflower nor does it say that in this article. Perhaps you should learn to read? Other news articles concerning this story state that her class participation was entirely inappropriate. She even received a written warning but ignored it.

        February 15, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • abj

      Participation in an American classroom generally means contributing to class discussion and answering questions, just generally being engaged in the classroom. It is very possible to do the homework and other out of classroom assignments, and taking quizzes and getting an "A" or "B" for those efforts.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Buck

      Scott, you are correct in that she was getting a B in all of her other classwork. She received a 0 in class participation because she was described as having outbursts in class, did not participate appropriately, and even failed to heed a warning letter. The professor even described her as being emotionally unstable.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Scott

      Thanks for all the replies, that clears it up somewhat. Just a bit confusing. My university didn't grade on attendance or participation. All our course material was online too, so there wasn't as great a need to attend every lecture.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Engineer

      I think the weight of class participation depends heavily on the subject matter. I work and teach in a field with lots of math and written communication, yet some level of public speaking and interaction is still required. I don't tend to grade class participation explicitly (though perhaps I should). But for someone in a therapy/counseling program, appropriate verbal communication is a major part of your career.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  37. Jerry

    OMG! Finally, a rational judge!!! Hopefully this decision will start curbing frivolous and idiotic lawsuits. Actually, anyone, no exception, filing frivolous lawsuits, including the filing lawyers, should be forced to pay all court costs.

    Judge Giordano, I am really proud of you!!!

    February 15, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  38. GrowUp

    I have experiences with students who claim that the grade was not fair. A common theme I can think of is that these students never had a chance to get evaluated in an honest way. Their former teachers must be trying to be nice but not honest. These students can sneak into higher education in various ways in our current system. Now when they first realize their true capabilities, they rather find the reason from others, the professor. Teachers and professors should stop pampering their students. I know that student evaluations have negative impact on teachers in this regard. But, that is the burden of teachers. If teachers are truly dedicated to students' success, most students will appreciate it and the evaluation should not be a problem eventually. Giving the honest feedback to the students before they go to the real world is important to the student and for the society too.

    February 15, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Omen

      I work at a Research I, so perhaps I am somewhat liberated by the lower emphasis on student evals, but I think it is very important to make sure that people emerge from my class with the skills their degrees suggest they have, and I am explicit in telling them so. Ironically, I always get strong evals, so I think that the disconnect is when students aren't aware up front that they will be held to high standards, aren't clear on why that is to their benefit, and aren't sure that their successes are meaningful to the instructor.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:43 am |
      • GrowUp

        Thanks for sharing your experience! And that matches to my experience too. I sometimes feel that I was too demanding to the students but that's when I got stronger evaluations. And I feel excited when I see comments like 'He cares about students' success' in evaluations.

        February 15, 2013 at 10:49 am |
      • Elizabeth

        I agree with both Omen and Growup. As a professor, I set out my expectations very clearly at the start of each term, and I made my grading policy clear, easy to understand, and it was all there in black and white. I also emphasized that students who needed permission to miss more than the college's permitted allotment of classes (10%) should see me BEFORE missing class unless there was a real emergency (i.e., a life threat to student, spouse, or child). Then I simply stood by the rules. There were some who had never had that experience with a professor/teacher, but my evaluations were always very positive. I was chosen as my college's outstanding educator by the faculty and administration twice in 10 years and won a national teaching award during that period as well. I was also promoted into an administration position, and allowed to keep a faculty contract and teaching responsibility for one class per term at my discretion.

        The person who wrote that their professor lectured and read from the textbook for 50 minutes straight saddened me. THESE are the professors who should not be teaching in higher education. Why bother? If an educator cannot give of him/herself to excite students about the subject matter, and to go beyond the dry black & white of the book, attendance should NOT be required. College students can read, and professors who read to students insult them. This situation is sad, and it happens way too often.

        February 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • Missy

        @Elizabeth, as someone that teaches K-12, depending on where I'm needed, these people should not be teaching at ANY level.

        February 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  39. HZ

    One of the things you learn in the University system is that if you want a good grade you don't go overboard in annoying the professor. After you graduate you can say and do whatever you want. That's just how it works. Different professors have a different tolerance for people with different opinions. They aren't all the same. She probably could have corrected her low grade by immediately repeating the course (with the professors permission). Maybe she had too much pride to do that? hmmm.

    February 15, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Buck

      You call it "annoying the professor" but in this case it would be more accurate to describe her behavior as a disruptive presence in the class. Heck, she even received a warning letter about her behavior. If her behavior didn't justify a C grade, then you would think she would bring in former classmates as witnesses to help prove her case. Instead, she had zero evidence to prove her case.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  40. Buck

    Last I checked, a stereotypical Republican doesn't advocate same s e x marriage. So your attempt at a political insult falls quite flat here. Perhaps you should actually read the article next time?

    February 15, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Buck

      Accidental double post. This comment was meant as a reply to jay howard.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  41. Matt

    As a math professor, these are the students I fear........

    February 15, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Engineer

      As a math professor, you have some pretty strong empirical evidence to support your grade choices. Nonetheless, someone will find a way to complain about their grade.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  42. Say What?

    She went from a C- to an F...HAHA

    February 15, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  43. geeworker

    sound like she one of these people who think they are superior to others just because she has read a few books and felt that that it was beneath her to interact with her class and instructor

    February 15, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  44. jay howard

    That worthless student MUST have been a Republican.

    February 15, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Buck

      Last I checked, a stereotypical Republican doesn't advocate same s e x marriage. So your attempt at a political insult falls quite flat here. Perhaps you should actually read the article next time?

      February 15, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • AnnoyedByPolitics

      Suing someone claiming discrimination... No, that definitely sounds lit a democrat.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Just Saying

      Jay, she was actually a liberal Democrat, expecting something for nothing. It actually has a medical diagnosis, it's called Obamaitis. That's where a person just yammers on all day long saying "gimme, gimme, gimme".

      February 15, 2013 at 10:38 am |
      • Alex

        The internet wouldn't be the same without the politards.

        February 15, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • Janer52

      stop with the democrat/republican thing. just freakin' stop

      February 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • terrie allen

      you mean a worthless dumocrat oh i mean democrat. . . . she didnt earn it or deserve, but she wants it because some body got it besides her !

      February 15, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  45. dotheflippin'math

    I had a teacher who deliberately misgraded my final exam to an F, because she didn't like me. I had a B average going into the final, which I knew I did not fail. I demanded an investigation from the school, and produced around 50pages of graded work, demonstrating that all of my prior grades averaged to a B, and from the often ridiculous comments she wrote attacking my (correct) answers, the board agreed to review my final exam (which was never released to me). They came back and said there were "inconsistencies with the grading of the final exam," and they raised my course grade to a C. I knew I aced that final, and insisted I deserved a B for the course, but they wouldn't raise it higher than a C. Still, they at least raised the grade and confirmed the teacher "made mistakes." Some teachers, especially in colleges, let their personal feelings affect their grading. Sometimes, the teacher really is wrong, and there are proper ways to contest an unfair grade. I was still angry, but at least I was vindicated, and allowed to complete my major, which a D would have prevented. Suing the school should be a last resort. Go through the proper channels first.

    February 15, 2013 at 9:57 am |
  46. Pi Boson

    These students filing these lawsuits get a well deserved A for lazy, stupid behavior. Perhaps they are better suited for athletic scholarships.

    February 15, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  47. humberto

    And there lies the dangerous precedent.

    February 15, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  48. empresstrudy

    Disagreeing with the professors politics can harm your grade. You should know that no matter how insane your prof is you always agree with them.

    February 15, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • humberto

      Your Boss too ?

      February 15, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • corey

      The one thing you must learn early on, preferably the first semester, is to subtly stroke the professors ego. Although you should privately learn all you can while you're in college–conservatism, liberalism, libertarian thought, and so on, while in class you must pretend to agree with the professor. If you're lucky, LUCKY, you'll get a professor who encourages debate and rewards clear arguments and writing regardless on whether he/she agrees, but let's face it, most professors have spent their entire lives in love with their ideas and the sound of their own voice.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:06 am |
      • HZ

        Yup. I had two profs who I believe lowered my grade for reasons that had nothing to do with my work but it was still a B and I was just about to graduate so I let it go. After graduation I was more upset about it then I was at the time tho. Overall the professors I had were cool people and not looking to go out of their way to harm anybody.

        February 15, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Buck

      Disagreeing with the professor's politics wasn't the reason she received the C plus.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  49. humberto

    A zero for unprofessional conduct and requirement to admit such before being allowed to get back into the program. Sounds like, you will submit to my criminal will.

    February 15, 2013 at 8:33 am |
  50. Name*pat

    Typical of some students today. They've had everything handed to them while "growing up" and fail miserably when they encounter the real world. Suck it up, honey.

    February 15, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • lola

      True, yup..

      February 15, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • geeworker

      but that what they are being taught from day one, if you don't like the standards sue to get them lowered. cant hack it coming in 1st 2nd or 3rd then sue to get an award for having a pulse. the real crime is that the school had to use part of its budget to hire lawyers to defend this nonsense so when the tuition rates go up next year to cover the cost, instead of protesting the school the student body should be standing in front of her house protesting

      February 15, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  51. One L

    The ruling was fair – this sets a dangerous precendent otherwise. RE-TAKE THE CLASS – problem solved. I got As and Bs in grad school, I worked my ass off (worked full time too) and actually participated. If you knew the requirements and prerequisites for the grading process and didn't follow through, that's YOUR fault. I'm in law school now, no As yet, just Bs, but I still work hard and participate.

    February 15, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • humberto

      Big deal, So you're learning how to read with no comprehension.

      February 15, 2013 at 8:54 am |
      • One L

        You can't survive law school if you don't comprehend what you read FYI

        February 15, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Nikki

      I agree that the ruling was fair. She didn't do what was required for the course and got the grade she earned. It's her fault. The student just sounds like a spoiled brat.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  52. Fifi

    zero class participation means just that! And how does she know what kind of counselor she would have become if she couldn't do the class right. You can't counsel by giving people a paper the following week with ways to help them. Yeah empathy helps but don't sit there bawling your eyes out at me its my problems your helping to fix not yours. Sounds like the judge did his job fairly and just. Thanks your Honor..

    February 15, 2013 at 7:28 am |
  53. Boinky

    Excellent decision by the judge. What a lazy spoiled brat this student is.

    February 15, 2013 at 5:29 am |
  54. Adolf

    She got a zero for being a jew. Jews are zeros.

    February 15, 2013 at 4:33 am |
  55. Dana

    Maybe she thought daddy would, could or should of bailed her out.

    February 15, 2013 at 1:16 am |
  56. miss heather

    Just because cnn doesn't give all the details doesn't mean the judge didn't have them. perhaps she did sleep in class or miss a lot. maybe there was group work involved and she didn't participate. or maybe the teacher felt she had to give good grades even though she didn't deserve them and evened the score with a 0 in participation. CNN reported the jist of the story, you're not the judge so why expect details to judge yourself? you won't even care about her 2 days from now. but suing for grades is dumb unless you have real proof

    February 15, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • Buck

      CNN gave more case details in an earlier article. Apparently she had outbursts in class, did not participate appropriately, was emotionally unstable and failed to heed a warning letter. That sounds quite deserving of a lower grade.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  57. Expatmom

    Many universities give faculty dependents free tuition. This would not upset her professors. It appears Megan didn't like field work!

    February 15, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  58. GaryBslboa

    Theres a bit more to the story here. Search for the newspaper The Morning Call from Allentown.

    They have all the answers you seek.

    February 15, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • GaryBalboa

      Oh and to say the student wasn't in it for a quick payday is just laughable. Free tuition, a rich family, and a lawsuit cause you couldn't handle the course...

      Sleep well at night thinking we all believe you Megan?

      February 15, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • CronoT

      I did as you advised, & the information was less one-sided, but still leaning toward the student. Part of the article indicated that the judge offered the best middle ground possible, taking the course over again. The student's lawyer responded that one of the conditions given to her to get back into the program was to admit "unprofessional conduct", which pretty much bars her from state certification in & of itself. The reaons given for her unprofessional conduct was swearing & one outburst where she started crying.

      I don't know about you, but having a counselor who cam empathize with me & my struggles would be a plus. As for the swearing, I'd need direct context to come to a decision there.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:55 am |
  59. Zu

    I am not sure about the assesment method but I find it unusual to give a student zero mark for class participation.

    We do not have all the facts about the student, but if she attends classes and participates, is 0 justifiable?

    February 14, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • Cg

      If the class has clear guidelines regarding achieving a participation score, such as attendance, or particular class discussions or activities then receiving a zero is not so far fetched. Anyhow, it is obvious the teacher was on to something. A student getting a full free ride by association doesn't always rub everybody the right way. If there were no clear classroom requirements regarding participatioon laid out beforehand then the student does have cause for concern, however if she did not follow protocol then she deserved the grade she received. We will never know the answers to these questions until a more genuine and thorough approach towards journalism takes precedence.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:03 am |
      • Name*penguin

        It is very common for children of college professors to get their college tuition paid by the professor's employer. Most children prefer to attend a school other than where their parent works.

        February 15, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • mique

      I have had instructors that state at the beginning of class, and in the syllabus, that a certain percentage of the grade is for class participation. I do not know what happened in this instance, but if stated up front, class participation can influence your grade.

      February 15, 2013 at 5:28 am |
  60. anna

    She doesn't deserve to win this lawsuit...kudos for the judge

    February 14, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
  61. anna

    Good, doesn't deserve to win....who do people think they are filing lawsuits over a grade you get for a course...give me a break

    February 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • lola

      Typically, students on this days want to blame someone else for their mediocrity n bad grades.
      Thats why this society n new generations is about me and only me.
      N is my way or not way..
      Suck it up sweetie you failed.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  62. CronoT

    I would think it would be VERY EASY to prove the class participation part. Was she present in the class? Did she raise her hand and answer questions? Unless she wasn't there or had her head on the desk drooling, she participated in the class.

    February 14, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Aloisae

      I don't know how class participation was defined when the scoring system was outlined to the participants in this particular course, but I've definitely had courses where just showing up and saying something in class would not even have begun to be satisfactory and you could fail that portion of the scoring with 100% attendence.

      Depending on the course, how one participates could be vital and how the professional skill that the course was designed to teach is both taught and assessed. Even if one "participates" regularly by showing up to every class and saying a lot, if you don't show understanding of the concepts involved and/or progress in the skills under review then you still can fail at the "participation" component of the course. As a very basic example, if the course is designed to teach communication skills and the main goal of "class participation" is to work on listening skills then even if you are the person who talks the most in class you could have the worst participation grade if you spend the entire time always expressing your viewpoints and can never articulate back what the other people say and ask relevant questions to clarify points and draw out more information.

      Again, I have no idea how the "class participation" portion was defined of this particular course that was the subject of the lawsuit or what the course was designed to teach so I don't know if this is relevant or not but it would be the kind of thing that would have been taken into account by the judge.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  63. humberto

    Why was my comment blacklisted?

    February 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  64. Johan S

    CNN how about telling us if she did have class participation or what the issue there was. It's odd to get a zero like that.

    February 14, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  65. Name*penguin

    And her father teaches at the University and she went there free! The irony is priceless. I wouldn't hire her to flip hamburgers and ask "would you like fries with your order. "

    February 14, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • humberto

      She was blacklisted but, already intellectually chained to their corrupt cabal .

      February 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm |